John McGinn will remain as Aston Villa captain under Unai Emery, who was full of praise for the midfielder having been left impressed by him thus far.
The 28-year-old was given the captain’s armband prior to Emery’s arrival in October, and although he hasn’t featured in the last four Premier League games due to injury, he has evidently made a big impression over the last three months.
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After initially being left on the bench in Emery’s first game in charge against Man Utd, McGinn returned to the starting line-up against Brighton with the captain’s armband, and started three games on the bounce in a new role on the right side of midfield.
Although Villa did recall Bertrand Traore from his loan spell in Turkey to give Emery another option in that area of the pitch, the expectation is that McGinn will be given the nod initially as he hopes to win a place back in the Villa XI against Man City on Sunday, and it’s clear that his application, leadership and quality continues to impress his boss.
“I’m not changing that (captaincy),” Emery is quoted as saying by BirminghamLive. “I’m happy with him. His commitment is very important for me and for us. His qualities, his mentality. I’m not changing the rules we had. I kept the rules when I arrived here.
“He’s been with us in the squad and maybe on the starting XI. He’s competitive, very competitive. If you have to defend, he’s there. If you have to attack, he’s there.
“If you have to make one tactical change, he’s very professional. He will do it. Then, you look at his skills. He can play outside, inside, on the right – on the left. I like him very much.”
While Villa have won two, drawn one and lost one in McGinn’s absence, even in those more positive results, there was a sense that we did miss his presence in midfield given the tenacity, energy and quality that he can provide to help us control a game and get a foothold in midfield.
In turn, it’s not surprising that Emery has spoken so highly of him, and given he gets to see the Scottish international in training every day, it’s clear how important he feels he will be in his plans moving forward.
Time will tell if the captaincy situation changes this summer with Emery having an opportunity to continue to mould the squad into his own and bring in further reinforcements, one of whom could be a standout candidate to become our new captain.
However, for now, McGinn will remain in that role, and it’s hoped that his return to the side has a significant impact and helps us to gain consistency in what Emery is demanding of the team to put results like the defeat to Leicester City behind us, and instead continue to pick up important wins to move up the standings.